Our first stop is the site of the fourth largest Roman city in England at Viriconium, which at its peak covered over 400 acres, from where the Roman Army conquered the Cornucovii.Unfortunately little of which is above ground today, but excavations are progressing. One notable building is very few years old and thanks to a TV Channel 4 programme ‘Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day’, a Roman ‘villa urbana’ – a high status Roman town house was erected by a team of modern builders using traditional Roman methods.
We now follow the River Severn to the World Heritage Site of Ironbridge, where we will have a chance to walk over the World’s first iron bridge and look around this small town on the banks of the River Severn.
Climbing out of the Severn Gorge, we drive through Much Wenlock, the birthplace of the Modern Olympics, before continuing to Bridgnorth, a cliff top market town with the longest and steepest inland cliff railway in the country and a Castle keep which leans 5 times more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Our route now takes us through typical South Shropshire agricultural countryside before stopping at Cleehill to see the extensive views which stretch from South Birmingham, Worcester, Malvern Hills, the Black Mountains of the Brecon Beacons and even Pembrokeshire!
We now take a very scenic route along glacial valley to the largely Victorian town of Church Stretton with its range of independent shops nestled into the foothills of the Long Mynd and overlooked by Caer Caradoc, a centre of resistance to the Romans by the Ancient Britons.
Our tour may go over the Long Mynd via a precipitous route towards the Stiperstones Range via a route which goes through countryside which has hardly changed for hundreds of years. This area is steeped in folklore and legends from a giant bull, an imprisoned witch, an army who live underground, to the meeting place of the Devil and his followers.
We travel past the remains of several lead mines. Together they formed the largest lead mining area in Europe in Victorian times. Nature has largely reclaimed the area which now has beautiful gorse and heather slopes with rocky outcrops interspersed with the remains of chimneys and other mine buildings. It provided the backdrop for Mary Webb’s novel ‘Gone to Earth’, a classic version of which was filmed around here. Malcom Savile also located several of his Lone Pine books around here.
Alternatively, the tour will continue from Church Stretton to Acton Burnell, the ancestral home of Robert E.Lee of USA Civil War renown and also pass a wonderfully restored Tudor house, which is probably the very first Black & White building in the World.
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